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By Alex Kuhn
Sports Editor 

HSCHS cross-country ahead of schedule


September 12, 2019

THERMOPOLIS - It is early in the cross-country team season and the Hot Springs County High School runners are already beating expectations. If they keep up their current pace, coach Stephanie Metz will have one of those good problems and just have to raise the bar for her team.

"I was really excited about it," said HSCHS cross-country coach Stephanie Metz about her team's performance in Douglas. "We came out pretty strong. We were kind of thrown off because they combined the JV and varsity, so Tahja [Hunt] didn't get to warm up like she normally would so that third mile was pretty rough. But it's fine, she looked strong in her first and second miles and still OK with it."

Hunt finished third overall and was the Lady Bobcats top finisher with a time of 21:18. Sophomore Hallie Martinez was the next Lady 'Cat to cross the finish line at 23:48.06, finishing 15th, and junior Dayna Sandberg came in 18th with a time of 24:00.81.

It was an overall good day for the Lady 'Cats, 2A's defending state champions, and their coach could not have been more excited for her runners.

"We had Aspen Jensen run her first race since the sixth grade and I was super excited to see how she ran. She's really positive and I think we're going to see a lot of improvement with her throughout the year. Dayna looked strong too, her splits were awesome. Her start and finish were awesome and now we're trying to learn how to maintain the full 3.1."

Added Metz, "Hallie Martinez has definitely taken on more of a leadership role, being one of our veteran runners even though she's only a sophomore. She's looking really good and stronger than she was at this point last year, she's showing more of a race to her."

For the 'Cats, it was also a big day for them in Douglas. It was expected to be a learning season for the 'Cats and their four runners; twins Corbin and Cord Simeral, Karsten Hart and Isaac Robinson. But already, the quartet has exceeded expectations and shown they're determined to compete.

"I was just as excited, if not more, for the boys. I thought it was going to be about learning and taking it in stride but they came out and went above and beyond my expectations. Corbin and Cord are twins and they keep going back and forth with each other and any given race one will beat the other.

"Isaac and Karsten are right there with [Corbin and Cord]. Karsten is doing amazing compared to last year and Isaac is with him the whole time. Just seeing Isaac hold his own and pushing his hardest is great," said Metz.

It's still early in the season but if both the 'Cats and Lady 'Cats keep improving at their current rate, Metz will have to push those expectations higher, "I'm not trying to overwhelm them with miles and speed training. We're trying to keep them healthy and making the adjustments we need," she said.

This week HSCHS heads to Afton for the Star Valley Invitational on Saturday, who will also host the 2A State meet on Oct. 26. Getting an early look at the state course is the main purpose of this week's trip and more than getting physically prepared for the course, Metz wants her runners to focus on the mental aspect of tackling the course's many hills in high elevation.

"We've been preparing since Day 1, we've gone up in the mountains a couple of times to feel the elevations. We've been focusing our whole season around it. We are doing a few hills and working on our speed training for when we go downhill, we're able to pop back uphill and go at it hard.

"The hills I'm not as nervous about but more wanting to prepare them for the elevation. The hills, if you can run our golf course, which has steep climbs, they're going to be just fine with the hills [in Afton]," said Metz. "It's just training the mind to understand the difference between pain and discomfort. We're just training our minds all season long."


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